Severe weather, even tornadoes, possible Wednesday

A storm system responsible for at least 27 possible tornadoes from Texas to Alabama on Christmas day will move through the Carolinas today. The Storm Prediction Center has most of the area east of I-95 in a moderate risk for severe storms.

My overall thinking has changed very little. We are on the warm side of a very powerful winter storm that will race up the Appalachian mountains through Thursday. As a warm front lifts northward this morning and a cold front approaches from the west during the early afternoon, the atmosphere will become sufficiently unstable. Storms will build into extraordinarily fast winds just above the ground and all will be capable of rotating and producing damaging straight-line winds and even tornadoes.

My biggest concern is the possibility of discrete, or individual, storms developing ahead of the main line of storms. These storms, called supercells, are notorious for producing strong tornadoes that can stay on the ground for a lengthy amount of time.The Storm Prediction Center says there is a 30%-45% chance (higher near the coast) of straight-line winds exceeding 58 mph within 25 miles of a given point in our area. Winds that strong are certainly capable of damage.

The Storm Prediction Center also says there is a 10% chance of an EF2 (winds{>}111 mph) or stronger tornado touching down within 25 miles of a given point in our area. Obviously, those chances are small, but if a tornado develops, it could be significant.

The threat of severe weather will end as the main line of storms moves east of the Pee Dee/Border Belt by 2pm and the Grand Strand by 4pm.

For the latest on the storm check back here, and also on Ed's

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